Rishi Sunak appears to ride in car without wearing a seatbelt
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Rishi Sunak has apologised for removing his seatbelt while a passenger in the back seat of a moving car to film a video posted on social media today. The Prime Minister used the clip on his Instagram Stories to promote new levelling up funding as he visits northern England.
But eagle-eyed viewers noticed Mr Sunak did not appear to be wearing a seatbelt during the video.
A Downing Street spokesman said this afternoon: “That was a brief error of judgment. The Prime Minister removed his seatbelt to film a short clip.”
Mr Sunak “fully accepts this was a mistake and apologises”, the spokesman added.
The official continued: “The Prime Minister believes everyone should wear a seatbelt.
“It was an error of judgment, he removed it for a short period of time to film a clip, which you’ve seen, but he accepts that was a mistake.”
Drivers and passengers who are caught not wearing a seatbelt can be slapped with an on-the-spot fine of £100.
In the clip, Mr Sunak said: “One of my New Year’s promises to you was to grow the economy, and today we’re announcing the second round of allocations from our levelling up fund.
“And that’s about investing in local areas in order to create jobs and help deliver on that promise to boost growth.”
The PM also faced separate criticism for using a jet as he carried out a series of visits in northern towns linked to an announcement on the allocation of £2 billion in levelling up funding.
Mr Sunak took an RAF jet from Northolt to Blackpool on Thursday.
Labour accused the Prime Minister of “jetting around the country on taxpayers’ money like an A-list celeb” and making a “mockery” of his environmental strategy after the 41-minute flight.
But Downing Street defended the mode of transport as making “the best use of his time”.
And Mr Sunak said he had to be as “effective as possible”, while admitting that “trying to get across the north is not as easy as it should be”.
Tory MP Mark Jenkinson also defended Mr Sunak, saying: “He’s the Prime Minister, multiple train changes with a security detail and unreliable Avanti West Coast would be madness.”
A train journey from London Euston to Blackpool takes less than three hours, with a single fare coming in at £73.40, or £189.80 to travel during peak hours. First class could cost £257.
But disruption and delays hit earlier services on Thursday.
Last week, No 10 defended Mr Sunak flying to Leeds because there is a “great deal of pressure” on his schedule.
He went on to take an RAF plane to Scotland as he announced two new “green” freeports.
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